Expert Guide on tour for the tour duration.
7 nights stay, 6 days hiking
Moderate Walks each day – Previous Hiking experience required
“Have done 2 trips with IWHB. Relaxing way to travel with someone else making all the plans. Guides were interesting and fun. Quality food. The company really knows the best places to walk”
– Ken & Donna, USA, 2016
The Burren and Connemara face each other across Galway Bay, with the glorious Aran Islands strategically placed in between. It is hard to imagine two more contrasting landscapes. ‘Burren’ is derived from the Irish word boireann meaning ‘place of stone’, and the name could not be more apt. There is no part of Ireland where rock so obviously dominates the landscape as it does in the Northwest corner of County Clare.
The Burren covers an area of some 260 square kilometres and is famous for its bare limestone pavements dissected by deep crevices and traversed by countless stone walls. Surprisingly, this bizarre and apparently hostile environment is a botanist’s paradise as around ¾ of Ireland’s plant species are found in the Burren (more than any other region).
By contrast – Connemara is an imposing landscape of lakes, moorland and rugged mountains. It has some of the most extensive areas of blanket bog in Europe and is home to many heathland and bogland plants such as the insectivorous sundew and butterwort and a rich variety of heaths and heathers. The two main mountain groups – the Twelve Bens of Connemara and the Maamturk Mountains – are separated by the deep valley in which Lough Inagh lies. One of the most typical Connemara scenes is to see the jagged peaks glistening with quartz reflected in the still waters of a bogland pool.
In between these 2 contrasting landscapes lie the Aran Islands, Inisheer (near island), Inishmaan (Middle Island) and Inishmore (big island). Although the Aran Islands belong to Co. Galway, geologically they are similar to the Burren in Co. Clare with many of the fields consisting of little more than bare limestone. The islanders have eked out a living by improving the soil over generations with sand and seaweed. Aran is also a bastion of Irish culture with the Irish language still the everyday language of most islanders, making it the strongest Gaeltacht in the country.
Not Included: Personal drinks, medical expenses or gratuities.
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Your holiday begins in the cultural city of Galway – a city that thrives both on a fascinating and historical past & a traditional & proudly Irish present. Your Guide will meet you at 16.00 hours in the centre of Galway, and then a courtesy transfer by minivan takes you to your holiday start location on the southern shores of Connemara. From here, your Guide will introduce you to your group & brief you on the coming days of your holiday. You will then walk to a nearby restaurant for your first dinner together & return later to your accommodation for your overnight. If you wish to make your own way to your first accommodation in Connemara ahead of time – you are most welcome & your Guide will meet you there at approx. 17.30hrs. Should you wish to explore Galway & spend an extra night or two there before (or after) your holiday – we will be happy to book accommodation for you.
Your first walk is a wonderful introduction to the beauty of Connemara and the contrasts of bogland & beach that makes this part of Ireland so enthralling. After your full Irish breakfast and with your picnic lunch in your backpack, you start your hike from your accommodation.
A wonderful track gradually becomes a little “sheep trail” as you follow a beautiful walk to Errisbeg mountain. With glorious views across Roundstone Bog to the Twelve Bens & the Maamturks, a vista unfolds to give you a stunning landscape to admire that makes Connemara so famous & so popular with nature lovers. To your west, you overlook the coast and the Wild Atlantic way off to the horizon, while to your east, you overlook bogland & mountains. Descend from here and follow the coastline back to your accommodation. Today is a super opportunity for a swim in the clear & refreshing waters of the west of Ireland and your Guide will ensure you have time to do so if you wish.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 16kms. Highest point: 300mts. Paved roads disappear to grassy tracks & then open hillside with rocky & uneven sections, some boggy & wet underfoot conditions with some steep climbs up & down. Paved footpaths & beach towards the end. Opportunity to swim.
Driving a short distance, you reach the little village of Letterfrack and Connemara National Park. Here, you will have time to enjoy the Visitor Centre, where you may wish to learn more about the formation of this fascinating landscape & its early settlers.
Following a board walk, you climb to the top of Diamond Hill in the centre of Connemara National Park to reach the summit of one of the Twelve Bens. With a terrific 360 degree view from the top, your Guide will point out the many different locations around you and will explain the significance of them in relation to the region. Descending from here, you return to the Visitor Centre in the National Park where you may wish to soak in more of the atmosphere & information on this region.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 14kms. Highest point: 445mts. Gravel tracks with rocky & uneven sections, stepping stones, board walks & boggy underfoot conditions. Steps up and down
At the end of your walk, you will then continue on to the famous & impressive Killary Harbour – Ireland’s only fjord and if energy allows, enjoy a short walk here. If you wish, you may enjoy the opportunity to meet a local farmer, immerse yourself into this diverse way of life, get hands on experience with farming sheep & if you wish – cutting turf. (There is a small additional charge for this). Return to your accommodation afterwards for a free evening at your leisure.
Today you transfer to Galway Bay & reach the largest of the Aran Islands and Inishmore where you will spend your next 2 nights. Taking a small ferry from Galway, your crossing takes approx. 1 hour. On reaching the island, you drop off your luggage at your accommodation & then continue on to have a wonderful walk around the south eastern region of the island. Learning some of the rich history of these islands, you will also have time to visit an old fortress before returning to your accommodation for your dinner & overnight.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 9kms. Highest point: 100mts. Paved roads, gravel tracks with rocky & uneven sections, limestone slabs which can be “wobbily” underfoot.
Today you will have the opportunity to discover Inish Mor in all its glory. Leaving your accommodation, and overlooking the southern shores of the island, you reach the centre of Inishmor at Kilmurvey.
Following a lovely old trail, you will be brought across the limestone pavements to reach the fascinating “Poll na bPeist” or Serpents Lair. This amazing natural swimming pool is a wonderful location to learn more about this ancient landscape. With its rough and severe tidal currents, it soon becomes clear on why the sea forms so much of island conversations. Continue on to reach the impressive stone fortress of Dun Aonghasa and your breath will be taken away with the wonderful views from here. Continuing from Dun Aonghasa fortress, along the northern shores of the island, you reach a seal sanctuary. With time to enjoy this coastline, and visit some of the older churches on the island, you then return to your accommodation to enjoy an evening at your own leisure.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 19kms. Highest point: 150mts. Paved roads, gravel tracks with rocky & uneven sections, limestone slabs which can be wobbily underfoot. Exposed cliff edges with no protection.
Leaving the island this morning, you return to the mainland and drive south, around Galway Bay to reach the Burren. This is a completely different & contrasting landscape to Connemara & also boasts one of the most diverse arrays of flowers that any keen botanist would wish to find.
Just outside the village of Ballyvaughan, you reach Abbey Hill. From here, you follow a trail to the foothills of its peak, before climbing across the limestone pavements to reach the top. Overlooking Ballyvaughan Bay & Galway Bay beyond, you will be able to see Connemara where you have already been and the Aran Islands inbetween. Continuing on from there, you reach your accommodation in Doolin where you spend your next 2 nights.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 8kms. Highest point: 250mts. Paved roads & gravel tracks, open hillside with rocky & uneven limestone slabs to traverse.
At the end of your walk, your Guide will point you in the direction of some super places to eat & enjoy some of the lively traditional music that makes Doolin such a “mecca” for Irish music lovers.
When visiting Doolin – one of the most talked about “must-do’s” is to visit the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher. These impressive cliffs form a protective barrier from the Wild Atlantic Way to the rich & fertile land at the southern end of the Burren region. Standing proudly above the ocean their towering dominance is a spectacle that can best be appreciated on foot.
Walking from your accommodation in Doolin, you walk south to reach the foothills of the Cliffs of Moher. Climbing gradually, you can see the lower levels and layering of rock formations that continue to climb to their 300mt wall of beauty. Reaching the Visitor Centre you may wish to learn more on the formation of the cliffs, or just enjoy some light refreshments there. Following south from the Visitor Centre you reach the southern point of the cliffs at Hags Head. This is the place that originally gave the cliffs their name & from here, you have wonderful views south over Lahinch, the Shannon Estuary & Kerry in the distance. Transferring by bus back to Doolin, those that wish will have time for a well-earned “pint” to celebrate your week of walking.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 15kms. Highest point: 300mts. Paved roads, gravel tracks & grassy, muddy trails. Exposed cliff edges throughout the walk.
At the end of your walk, you return to the delightful village of Doolin to enjoy your final farewell dinner together, compare stories, reminisce and enjoy some great music before your onward journeys tomorrow.
After your final and substantial Irish Breakfast, you will be taken by minivan to reach the bus & train station in Ennis. From here, you can then avail of the excellent bus/train service to all major airports, cities & ferry ports in Ireland. Your estimated arrival time to Ennis is approx. 10.30am. Please note that Ennis is approx. 20 mins (drive time) from Shannon Airport.